Lawmakers for increasing tobacco tax in next budget

Staff Correspondent

4 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

To reduce the use of tobacco for the sake of public health, lawmakers on Monday proposed to increase tax rates on tobacco products in the upcoming budget for the 2021-22 fiscal.

They also agreed to send a request to the finance minister to increase the price of tobacco products by imposing specific taxes.

They made the proposal at a webinar titled ‘Upcoming Budget: Increasing Tobacco Tax to Protect Public Health, Additional Revenue Earning and Our Expectations’ organized by Tobacco Free Bangladesh Platform.

Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP, president of Tobacco Free Bangladesh Platform coordinated the webinar.

At the beginning of the webinar, Professor Sohel Reza Choudhury, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Research at National Heart Foundation Hospital, presented a tax proposal for tobacco products.

The proposal calls for a specific duty of 65 per cent on the retail price of cigarettes, 45 per cent on bidis and 60 per cent on the retail price of smokeless tobacco products. If this proposal is implemented, the supplementary duty and VAT will generate additional revenue of Tk 300 billion.

The proposal also said raising tobacco prices and reducing its availability would encourage about 1.1 million adult smokers to quit smoking and discourage more than 800,000 young people from starting smoking. It will also help prevent the untimely death of 3.90 lakh current smokers and 4 lakh young people.

Lawmakers who took part in the webinar supported the proposal to increase the price of tobacco products through specific taxes. They agreed to send a proposal to the finance minister and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to reduce tobacco use with an emphasis on public health.

Addressing the webinar, Saber Hossain Chowdhury said the prime minister has given instructions to implement tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040. Parliamentarians, various ministries, government departments, public health experts all have to work together to implement this directive.

“This goal can be achieved by amending the law by imposing specific tax on tobacco products,” he added, emphasizing the implementation of the tobacco-free Bangladesh roadmap.

Rashed Khan Menon MP, Begum Wasika Ayesha Khan MP and Khadijatul Anwar MP also joined the webinar among others.

President of National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh, National Professor Brigadier (Retd) Abdul Malik, former director of the National Institute of Disease of Chest & Hospital (NIDCH) Prof. Mostafizur Rahman, National Professional Officer (NCD) of the Bangladesh Country Office of the World Health Organization Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Haque, Kazi Jebunnesa Begum, Additional Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Zillur Rahman Chowdhury, Coordinator of National Tobacco Control Cell and Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids also joined the webinar.

Al Amin/Sagar